Digestive Enzymes for Baby

Before I was pregnant I knew almost nothing about having a baby. Lucky for me I had plenty of experienced mom-friends (a.k.a. online discussion boards) to mentor me up to the job.

Like any mom, when it came to finding items to add to my baby registry, I read just about every list of baby “must-haves” on the Internet. I read lists written by crunchy-healthy mamas, lists by minimalist mamas, lists by gotta-have-all-the-latest-and-greatest mamas, plus just about everything else in between. With all that advice and picking and choosing what I thought would work well for my family’s lifestyle, Pat and I were as ready as we’d ever be for the arrival of our little one. BUT…. Looking back there is one thing that I don’t ever remember seeing on any of the hundreds of “baby essentials” lists I had read through in preparation for parenthood.

Baby H is now 8 months old and if there was just one thing that I would: a) Never ever be without for the rest of his babyhood, b) Make sure to stock up on for any potential future baby number two, c) Possibly sell my soul for if it really came down to it…..

DIGESTIVE ENZYMES

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Wait…. You mean that? Yes, ladies. That dinky little bottle with the obnoxiously cheesy name and the wonky spelling. Yes, moms everywhere. This is what I seriously wish more of us knew about. It was a complete game changer for both my baby and indirectly myself.

Enzymes are important for everyone in any stage of life.

They help our bodies break down food and absorb nutrients. (1) They are naturally occurring in the gut, however, some of us have an insufficient amount. When we lack enzymes, there is often times major discomfort or pain. Think of someone who is lactose intolerant – Their bodies are lacking the specific enzyme “lactase” which breaks down lactose. If they eat a bowl of ice cream, you are likely to hear them complain of stomach pain, diarrhea, gas, and other pretty symptoms. (fun side note: I am lactose intolerant). Babies can sometimes be deficient in enzymes too.

It took me awhile (3 months) to realize that Baby H was suffering from acid reflux since the day he was born.

If you’ve never had a baby before, and have never been around very many, when you do finally have one and he cries all the time and barely sleeps, in your own groggy, sleep-deprived state of mind, you think to yourself, “uhh, this is normal, right?” Or, as some moms are told by others and possibly even their pediatricians, it’s just the luck of the draw. In that case they might use the somewhat antiquated and ambiguous term “colic” to describe your baby’s clear discomfort. But I believe that in my case, and possibly many others – THEY WOULD BE WRONG.

My baby had silent reflux

One day when Baby H was about three months old, my mom who was watching him while I was at work, called in a bit of a panicked state and told me that he had been inconsolable all day long and was now exhausted from screaming in pain and not sleeping. Up until that point she had tried everything to avoid calling me at work but on the phone she insisted that something was not right and that we needed to take him to the doctor right then. It was 4:30pm at the time and the doctor’s office closed in 30 minutes. But knowing that my mom who had raised four kids of her own with more of a “rub some dirt on it” mentality was now advising an emergency trip to the doctor, I rushed home faster than a mama bear after her cub and we made it to the doctor’s office barely in time for a literally last-minute appointment.

The pediatrician listened attentively and patiently as my mom and I ran through all of Baby H’s symptoms.

Baby H’s Silent Reflux Symptoms:

  • Frequently (at least once a day) wakes up in the middle of a sleep, choking, sputtering, and gasping for air.
  • Never sleeps more than 30 minutes at a time during the day and 2 hours at a time at night.
  • Almost every time he wakes up it seems like “something” woke him out of a deep  sleep.
  • He has a lot of “wet” burps that will slowly work their way up his esophogas, burning all the way, (you can literally hear them at times) and when they come out, he often lets out a cry.
  • No one other than his mom and dad can hold him without him crying
  • The only way he can fall asleep is in a semi-upright position in his swing
  • He constantly snores/wheezes when he sleeps
  • Many times when I lay him down he shrieks and arches his back

Here are the sign often times associated with reflux that my baby did NOT have:

  • Spitting up often
  • Vomiting
  • Refusing to eat, or difficulty eating
  • Trouble with gaining weight
  • Sour smelling breath

The pediatrician diagnosed my baby with silent reflux and prescribed Zantac

It was a bitter-sweet day when I gave Baby H his first few drops of the medicine. Three months earlier, I never would have admitted that I would ever give my otherwise strong and healthy baby a prescription medication. (After all, reflux is in part a result of a lack of the right kind of acid, and medication like Zantac actually suppresses acid in the stomach.) But I carefully did my research and after much discernment felt that the best thing to do would be to take away his pain temporarily with the medicine until I could find a more natural solution that would do more than just relief the symptoms.

In comes the naturopath.

Having had success in healing my own body in the past with the help of naturopathic medicine, I made an appointment for Baby H to see my naturopathic doctor. At the appointment she empathized with me for feeling compelled to put my baby on Zantac. She also had the perfect solution to get Baby H off the medicine and actually cure his reflux by working with his little body to heal it. She told me to search out a brand of enzymes that was either specific to babies or one that was plant-based (2) and free from any acid (which can be harsh on a baby’s little tummy). I found Zymes 4 Kidz and ordered a bottle from the magical portal that is online shopping. Within days of implementing these enzymes, I was able to wean Baby H off of his prescription.  Within a few weeks he was completely off Zantac with no signs of reflux.

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Baby H quickly became a different baby with the addition of enzymes to his diet.

Before enzymes, Pat and I couldn’t take Baby H to the grocery store. We couldn’t go to my parents’ house for dinner. We couldn’t go ANYWHERE. If we tried, Baby H would inevitably loose his mind and shriek and scream until all three of us would be exhausted and just give up and go home. But EVERYTHING changed once he started his enzymes. All of his symptoms completely went away, and from then on everything has been giggles and smiles.

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UNTIL….

I forgot to reorder a new bottle on time and completely ran out for five days. During those five days without the enzymes, everything went right back to how it was before: crying, screaming, miserable, and sleep-deprived, (myself included!). But in hind sight, it was not the absolute worst thing to happen (and I must have told myself that million times during those days of waiting it out) because it was then that I could know with 100% certainty that it truly was the enzymes that made all the difference for Baby H.  And then finally, on a day more highly anticipated in our household this year than Christmas day, the new bottle of enzymes arrived.  After just one day of resuming the dosage, Baby H was back to his new normal. He was happy again and he no longer showed any discomfort from the reflux.

Giving enzymes to a baby… Is it hard??

Nope! Every morning I mix three scoops of powdered enzymes with about a teaspoon of water. No need to geek out on the proportions – It doesn’t need to be exact! I may or may not have mixed up a couple of these while half asleep and with only one contact in and I STILL got it “right”, 😉

Once the powder has dissolved, I use a syringe and slowly squirt a few mL’s into Baby H’s mouth. And guess what…? He loves them! Now when I whip up the mixture, he knows they’re coming and gets all excited and puckers his little lips for the syringe. Lucky for him, he gets them with every meal.

How can you possibly mess it up?

Well the bottle specifically says not to mix the powder directly with food (i.e. breast milk, formula, or solids) because it will actually start breaking down the food before it gets to the baby and will produce a supposedly unpleasant taste. I’ve never actually tried it this way to find if that is really the case, but there’s no need to since he loves the taste just with water.

Enzyme Overdose?

Not possible! The body will excrete what it does not use. (3) This is especially true with the Transformation brand of powdered enzymes since it is free of any acid, fillers, and added sugar.

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When can my baby stop taking enzymes?

Right now, with Baby H the focus is on building up his gut health to the point where one day he will not need to supplement with enzymes because his body will make a sufficient amount on its own. The only way to know when he’s reached that point is by eventually weaning him off the enzymes.

For now, I am still actively introducing new foods to his diet on a regular basis so the extra support of the enzymes makes me feel that we are setting him up in the best way possible for the future of his gut health.

The one good thing about not having started out my motherhood with a whole lot of baby experience already under my belt is the lack of preconceived notions that I had about parenting. Now, I’m not going to say that I didn’t day dream of what being a mom, and I may or may not have planned that if I had a girl she and I would both wear ballerina buns and coordinated outfits (not “matching” though… hello 90’s-family-christmas-card).  What I actually mean is that instead of knowing what to expect, I got to experience it all in the moment. And because of that, I made decision that I don’t think I could have or would have made had I not lived through those moments. I am so happy the way it all turned out for my little Baby H.  We may have started out behind the 8-ball, but now with the addition of digestive enzymes to his daily routine, he’ll only be better off. Yayy silver lining!

 

I am (definitely!) not a doctor. This article is based on my own personal experiences. Please consult a doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding your baby’s health or your own. Thank you and be well.

References

2. The Essential Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements by Sarah Brewer

3. How to Defeat Any Cancer, Ron Harder NHC, Dec 31, 2013, IBS Is BS: A Clear Understanding and Treatment for Your IBS in Laymans Language

 

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